Two new reports

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Yesterday, two new reports were launched, the fruit of a growing collaboration between CTC and the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN).

Realities are Greater than Ideas is a new CTC report on Evangelisation, Catholicism and Community Organising. Written by Dunstan Rodrigues, with essays by Prof Anna Rowlands and CTC Director Angus Ritchie, it combines stories from churches and chaplaincies with reflection on Catholic social teaching.

The report was funded by CSAN and the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood. CSAN Chief Executive Phil McCarthy welcomed the report as “a timely contribution to national debates on what it means to be a ‘Church of the poor’, and how Catholics can best address powerful systems that can increase or reduce division in our society.” He said that CSAN “have been pleased to support CTC in reflecting on how a process of community organising, in this case with Citizens UK, can shape Christians who, as Pope Francis yearns, are on the streets and not clinging to their own security.”

Steve Webb, Development Director in the Diocese of Brentwood said: “The Church sets before the world the ideal of a civilisation of love and this report will help many to turn the ideal into a local reality. Working together as a Catholic community in the wider community will achieve more than acting alone. As we seek to discover new ways to evangelise our diocese, we express our gratitude to the authors for providing materials that will foster (one to one) conversation and lead to action for the common good.”

Abide in Me is a report by CSAN, commended by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, which brings Catholic Social Thought to bear on Housing Challenges in England and Wales. It begins with an essay on “A Catholic vision of housing” by CTC Director Angus Ritchie. The essay argues that the Church’s contribution to debates on housing policy need to be “firmly grounded in its theology and worship,” – and that this necessarily involves seeing the poorest as agents in the shaping of housing policy, not its passive recipients. The exclusion of the poorest from this process “explains some of the serious defects in housing policy pursued by left and right-wing politicians in recent decades.”

Launching the report, Bishop Terry Drainey (Chair of Trustees of CSAN) said: “For Christians, a crisis is an opportunity. It nudges us to renew our mission in our own time and place, to be confident in entering on what might be a long haul, and to learn to love with fewer conditions. In that light, we are compelled to ask ourselves: ‘What more can Catholic social thought and action contribute on housing?’ With the bishops’ support, CSAN’s national team and the ecumenical Centre for Theology and Community have been addressing that question together in some depth. Today I am delighted to launch the first fruit of that collaboration.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference will be writing to their charities asking them to prioritise work on this issue in the next 10-12 years, and CSAN and CTC will be working together to help Catholic charities, parishes and schools to respond to this invitation.

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